KING RAT?: The rufus bettong was known as a rat kangaroo but is much larger than a rat and much more appealing.
KING RAT?: The rufus bettong was known as a rat kangaroo but is much larger than a rat and much more appealing. Patricia Edwards

Rare chance to see rufus

MOST recent arrivals to the Clarence Valley, and even many long-term residents, will be unaware of the presence of rufous bettongs, which inhabit certain areas of remaining natural bushland across the Valley.

Dubbed the rat kangaroo by early settlers, a bettong is in fact considerably larger than a rat but is also very much smaller than other macropod species, kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies.

About the size of a possum or bandicoot, these little fellows bound on strong hind legs in the way of kangaroos, while their swift agility and erratic leaping when startled helps them to successfully evade surprised predators.

Although sturdy and quite easily raised when taken into care by wildlife groups, the rufous bettong is a threatened species, listed as vulnerable under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.

As with most threatened wildlife, loss of habitat is the chief cause of this species being pushed to the edge in the Clarence Valley

So if one evening you should chance to see what looks like a stocky little kangaroo with a round blunt nose, standing upright on its hind-legs in the middle of the road, stop and enjoy it, because not everyone is privileged to see one.

Then make sure you take careful note of the precise place you see him, and pass this location information on to the Clarence Valley branch of WIRES for lodgement with the NSW Wildlife Atlas.

Not everyone is privileged to see one.



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